Are Electric Cars More Reliable Than Gas Cars? Detailed Report


Are electric cars more reliable than gas cars? Electric cars (EV’s) are more reliable that gas or diesel engine cars because there are less moving parts, but there are exceptions and here’s why.

Are electric cars more reliable than gas or diesel cars? It’s a question lots of people have been asking for years — and it’s a topic that electric vehicle fans bring up pretty consistently to highlight why driving a electric plug-in car is less hassle in the long term than an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle.

On paper, it makes complete sense to say yes. After all, gas or diesel vehicles have far more moving parts than electric vehicles. And that’s before you even take into consideration the complex cooling and exhaust systems that most modern internal combustion-engined cars have, that plug-in cars simply don’t need.

So when U.S. consumer research organization Consumer Reports published its latest Auto Reliability Survey — a hefty report providing reliability ratings and feedback on more than three hundred different vehicle models.

These vehicles were made between the year two thousand and two thousand and seventeen and electric vehicles managed to features a fair bit in the sound-bite media coverage thanks to their more reliable nature.

For example, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, a car that’s only been on sale for just under a year, came out as Chevrolet’s most reliable model out of Chevy’s fifteen-strong vehicle lineup.

It earned itself a “Very Reliable” rating and providing support to the notion that electric vehicles are more reliable than internal combustion engine vehicles.

Perhaps more interestingly, the Chevy Bolt EV managed that in its first year of existence. This is something which bucks the industry norm that new model cars.

Chevy Bolt EV
Chevy Bolt EV

Especially ones built on brand-new platforms with brand-new technology that tend to experience a few years of average or below-average reliability before any initial teething problems are hit on the head.

The reason I think in Chevy’s case though has less to do with the fact that the Bolt EV is an electric car and more to do with the way GM built the Bolt EV.

Rather than follow its traditional automotive development process, a pretty lengthy thing that’s mainly in-house, GM collaborated heavily with its battery provider LG Chem on the Bolt EV.

Indeed, engineers from LG Chem worked alongside GM’s engineering teams to develop not just the vehicle’s sixty-kilowatt-hour battery pack but also its entire high-voltage system, including motor and drivetrain as well as telematics and in-car electronics systems.

As one of the largest suppliers of electric vehicle battery packs — and an established electronics manufacturer — LG Chem’s influence in the design of the Bolt EV no doubt helped GM nail reliability from day one.

So what of Tesla? Well, since it only makes electric vehicles, it’s difficult to compare the luxury Model S and Model X to an internal combustion-engined model.

But, despite languishing in the twenty-first place as a brand in the lineup of reliable automakers, the brand overall did better than in previous years, thanks to the Model S earning its first-ever above-average rating.

The Model X meanwhile, with its more complex vehicle body systems — and less time on the market — suffered badly in the survey, scoring below average, something I’m sure kept Tesla down near the bottom of the reliability table.

Tesla 3
Tesla 3

Check out our in-depth review of the Tesla 3. After three years of driving this Tesla we spill the beans.

Despite this, however, The Model S’ above-average rating and the way that Tesla has worked to improve Model S reliability over the past five years, has led Consumer Reports to predict that Model 3 will likely score average reliability in its first year, something that, as I’ve already said, is almost impossible for a new vehicle.

This has upset Tesla, which as hit back at Consumer Reports for its prediction and, unfortunately reigniting a feud Tesla has with Consumer Reports’ rating system — despite the Model S being the highest-rated car in history on Consumer Reports’ website.

(And in case you’re confused here, the reliability survey results are only part of the process, the Consumer Reports uses to produce overall vehicle ratings, explaining why it’s not at the top of the reliability ratings yet is at the top of the vehicle rating table.

So far then, we’ve got one “Very Reliable” rating, one “above average” and one “below average,” with a prediction that Model 3 will produce “Average” reliability at launch.

And while I can’t go through all of the car brands in the survey, Consumer Reports has confirmed that so far, most electric vehicles are far more reliable than their internal combustion-engined counterparts for any given brand, due to their far less complex drivetrains and on-board systems.

Indeed, Jack Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, said that the Tesla Model 3 should be the “least complicated Tesla yet,” justifying the organization’s predicted rating for the affordable sedan.

The only plug-in to fare less well than its internal combustion-engined counterparts? The BMW i3, which came at the bottom of BMW’s vehicles in terms of reliability.

I should note, however, that as a brand, BMW was the fifth most reliable brand in the survey, so everything is subjective I guess.

The conclusion? Electric vehicles are more reliable than their internal combustion-engined counterparts — but with the occasional exception, it’s usually best to wait a year or two before buying a plug-in car that’s just hit the market, just as it gives the automaker time to iron out any problems before you buy yours.

Do you agree with the Consumer Reports verdict? Do you have one of the cars I’ve mentioned today? And are they are reliable as the report suggests?

We have a full range of videos for you to watch with hundreds of reviews of the latest EV’s available right here.

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